Archive for May, 2009

To Be Your Best? Or The Best?

May 21, 2009

Success. Is it about being the best or your best? Ask Kris Allen. He just won the title of 2009 American Idol, beating out Adam Lambert who was the judges’  favorite.

Kris Allen and Adam Lambert

No one was likely more surprised than Allen himself. He literally stuttered out that “Adam deserves this”.

Kris Allen never set out to win this competition. He set out to simply earn his way into being in (and staying in) the competition. Each week he focused on doing his best and he took advantage of the opportunity. Over the season, he grew leaps and bounds and literally found his voice!  He was considered the ‘dark horse’ and with each week, he continued to be shocked when invited to stay in the game. As the season neared finale, it became clear that if he didn’t win, he’d succeed anyways….with record labels and other opportunities likely lining up at his door. 

Is there a morale to this story? What do you think???!!!

Focusing on being your best without worrying about what the competition is up to can often pay off. Each week, Allen was rewarded for being authentic and as Paula Abdul and the other judges regularly noted – he never lost sight of who he was. He played to his strengths and stayed true to himself.

There are many other stories about how authenticity and focusing on being your best can pay off. This, in fact, was the winning strategy for John Wooden, former head coach for the UCLA basketball dynasty. He brought UCLA to win 10 NCAA national championships in 12 years…and many other notable accomplishments.

His secret to success?

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best which you are capable….don’t worry about whether you’re better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become” (as  quoted in ‘Wooden on Leadership’).

What about you? Where are you focusing on being your best — and where can you leave behind concerns about the competition?  What of your strengths are you leveraging? What opportunities are coming your way — or are you creating — that you can leverage to grow yourself ? Where did you not earn ‘top spot’ – yet found success anyways because of the effort you made? 

For me…well, this coming weekend I am running a half marathon. I’m as slow as heck and I don’t give a damn. I’ve been running for 30 years…some years ‘ploddier’ than others. I’m proud of it all. I’m too slow to win any medals. But my father (a very accomplished marathoner with more than 70 marathons under his belt) taught me many years ago that every participant is a winner if they bring their best to the race that day.  So this Sunday, I will start out with thousands of other runners. I will focus only on doing what I can do that day – and I will bring my best.

To each of us out there….may you have peace knowing you are bringing your best self to your life each day.

UPDATE (posted June 9): For those inquiring minds – yes, I completed the half marathon! I was extremely happy with the overall experience and what I accomplished that day. I did my best for sure for that particular run. For those in the ‘marathon-know’, I completed my second half-split faster than the first…and finished strong (within my capacity). Now I’m setting my sights on a fall possibility:)


Tribute to the Work of Mothers

May 9, 2009

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – and it’s got me thinking. For starters, how blessed I am to have my mother as my Mom (same goes for Dad)! And in the context of this blog being about work-life, I’m thinking specifically about the work mothers do.  It’s not a five-day /40 hr work week. It’s 24/7 and life-long. And whether ‘Mom’ also works outside of the home or not, this job of ‘motherhood’  is still full time.

Too often the work of mothers gets marginalized. Moms don’t get annual performance reviews, bonus’s or vacation pay. They don’t get ’employee of the month’ recognition. Well, they get Mother’s Day. Drum rolls puleeeze!

In the spirit of Mother’s Day, I want to acknowledge, celebrate and dedicate this post to the work of mothers, particularly my own mother for all’s she’s done and who’s she’s been to me all these years.  And,  I also want to single out another particular Mom — one who has had a tremendously challenging path in her journey of parenthood.

 Marcy and Jake

(Marcy White with her son Jacob)

My friend Marcy White (with her husband Andrew Trossman) have a son, Jacob, who was born with a severe and very rare handicap. When he was born, no one knew what was wrong – but it was obvious, something was very, very seriously wrong. Eventually, at age 10 months, Jacob was diagnosed with Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease (PMD) – a very rare degenerative neurological disorder. If you’ve seen the movie Lorenzo’s Oil, it is within the same family but PMD is distinct and without any cure at this point. Anyone that meets Jacob immediately falls in love with him. He is smart, loving, adorable. But his disease prevents him from talking, walking, eating (he is fed with a tube) — and he suffers from so much more physical difficulty. 

Marcy was a very successful career woman and had always had full intentions of being a mom AND  pursuing her career.  But when Jacob came – as blessed as they feel to have him in their life despite his challenges — Marcy’s “work” took on a whole new meaning. She switched gears and has since unceasingly focused on trying to make life better for Jacob. Marcy and Andrew have since had two (delicious, adorable!) twins… needless to say, Marcy’s day job, night job — and anything in between is all about family. She has her work cut out for her.

A tireless advocate and loving mother, Marcy works non-stop to raise  awareness and also try to raise some funds for research to find a cure for Jacob and kids like him. Because it’s so rare a disease, there isn’t much awareness nor any built-in support like some of the other causes out there. They are on their own — and the work never ends. But they (Marcy and Andrew) are on a mission and have purpose in their work…’s that for ‘meaningful work’?

MUST READ: Over the years, Marcy has found her strength, courage — and her voice. She tells Jacob’s story in articles, television, and other media.

Their story has been featured on ABC’s Nightline, Global TV, CTV — to name just a few Just this week Marcy wrote an article that was featured on  This article is a must-read.  Her story told in her voice will move you beyond any words I can write here. You can also see the ABC Nightline report and all other media at the website ( .

REQUEST: I am inviting (really ‘requesting’ 🙂 you to take a moment to read Marcy’s article — and perhaps some of the others on their site. Help me acknowledge the work of mothers and in particular the journey of Marcy, Jacob and the Trossman family. Most importantly, by reading Marcy’s/Jacob’s story, you will support her efforts by raising awareness of PMD….and that just may help advance the search for a cure and/or ways to help Jacob live a better life. 

Happy Mother’s Day and to a TGIM Work-life to you and all the mothers of the world!



Job Security While On Leave – That’s So Pre-Recession

May 6, 2009

A leave of absence used to mean you had extended time away from work with the assurance of coming back to your old job upon return. Ahh….not so much anymore. With the recession, there’s now an increased risk of being asked to leave after your “leave”.

Or so, that’s the theme of an article in the Globe and Mail Careers section today in which I was invited to comment and offer tips on how to mitigate that risk.

My advice is to do what you can to stay visible, relevant, connected and on the radar while you are away.  And try to develop yourself further so you have more to offer when you get back — to your existing employers or others if you choose or need to move on. But alas, while there are no guarantees of job security, taking action with strategies to protect yourself is a good idea. I, along with others, offered some concrete things you can do which are cited in the article.

You can read it while it’s still available online. At some point the Globe and Mail link will expire so you can also see a PDF of the article here

Good luck and to a TGIM worklife (in all economies),



Twitter me or Twitter This….:)

May 5, 2009

Just a quick note to let you know I am now also on Twitter. If you like any of the posts you read here, share it with others….by “Tweeting” it. 

You can also follow me at “Chadnick”.  See more at


It’s Mental Health Week. How Are You Feeling?

May 5, 2009

It’s Mental Health Week in Canada. How are you feeling?

A survey released yesterday confirmed what most of us already know. The recession is taking a toll on our emotional wellbeing.

No wonder. People are either overworked (the survivors) — or have no work at all (unemployed). The stress is hitting folks on all levels: Emotional, financial and physical.


The Desjardins Financial Security National Health Survey sponsored by Desjardin and the Mental Health Association revealed that as a result of the strain, absenteeism and disability are on the rise. Presenteism too — that’s when folks show up but aren’t really engaged and giving it their best…in some cases they barely even give it anything at all. 

Bad for people. Bad for business.

Michelle Nowski from Desjardin Financial Security says: “By investing in their workers, companies are investing in themselves. A mentally healthy workplace typically has fewer disability claims, lower absenteeism and better productivity,” said Nowski. “It really becomes a partnership between employees and employers because employees also have a responsibility to manage their health and stress levels.”

Well said. I agree the accountability is on both sides. Employer and employee — each have enormous stake in keeping their employees hearty, resilient and well.

There are many ways to help employees and employers deal better with the uncertainty and challenging times: communicate often and meaningfully; allow for some flexibility (i.e. perhaps some telecommuting, etc); foster team spirit and a sense of community at work; show acknowledgement and appreciation for the hard work people are putting in — and generally find ways to be supportive to colleagues, direct reports and anyone you are connected with in your work and life.

Another powerful strategy  is to develop coaching skills in leaders (see last post). Having a coaching culture at work with leaders as ambassadors of a positive culture with an appreciative approach to work and developing people -not just pushing projects – can go a long way in good and tough times.  I do a lot of work in this area.

AND…Never before has fluency in emotional intelligence (EQ) been more important. Empathy, Optimism, flexibility, perspective, resilience, independence and teamwork…..equally important for employee and employer….for the leader…and the worker bee.

EQ fluency (for individuals and organizational cultures) and coaching skills for leaders:  These are the areas that I focus on in my coaching practice at Big Cheese Coaching. Yes, a resounding self-promotion (but hey, personal marketing is ‘it’ in today’s economy).

If you are wondering how you can shore up your own EQ or help those you work with cope better with stress and pressure associated with work and life — get in touch! As well, there are and will continue to be resources here with tips and strategies. So stay in touch…

To a TGIM work-life (in all economies)